Table of Contents > Herbs & Supplements > Lutein Print

Lutein

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Related terms
Background
Evidencetable
Tradition
Dosing
Safety
Interactions
Attribution
Bibliography

Related Terms
  • 2',3'-anhydrolutein, 3'-epilutein, 3-hydroxy-beta,epsilon-caroten-3'-one (3'-oxolutein), 3'-hydroxy-epsilon,epsilon-caroten-3-one, 13/15-cis-lutein, all-E lutein, all-trans-lutein, anhydroluteins, C40H56O2, Calendula officinalis, carotenoids, cis-lutein, Compositae, crystalline lutein, epsilon,epsilon-carotene-3,3'-dione, helenien, Helenium autumnale L., hydroxy-carotenoids, lutein dipalmitate, lutein ester, luteine, macular pigment, marigold extract, oxygenated carotenoids, Tagetes erecta, trans-anhydro-lutein, trans-lutein, xantophyll, zeaxanthin.
  • Combination products (examples): Azyr sifi (vitamin C (180mg), vitamin E (30mg), zinc (22.5mg), copper (1mg), lutein (10mg), zeaxanthin (1mg), and astaxanthin (4mg)), BioAstin® (1,732 milligrams safflower oil plus Haematococcus algae extract [contains 4 milligrams astaxanthin and 480 milligrams lutein], Betatene® (0.5% lutein, 0.75% zeaxanthin, 3.6% alpha-carotene, 70.3% all-trans beta-carotene, 22.7% beta-carotene cis isomers, 2.1% unidentified carotenoids), Eyesight Pro (feather, cockscomb seed, glossy privet fruit, lutein, bilberry powder, chrysanthemum, blueberry extract), FloraGLO® (10 milligrams or 12 milligrams lutein, 0.5 milligrams zeaxanthin), Lutamax DUOT (20 milligrams or 10 milligrams lutein, 330 milligrams omega 3 fatty acids), Lutein ofta® (28 milligrams lutein or 0.5 milligrams per kilogram lutein, 1.2 milligrams zeaxanthin or 0.02 milligrams per kilogram zeaxanthin), OcuPower® (10 milligrams lutein, 2,500 IU vitamin A, 15,000 IU natural beta carotene, 1,500 milligrams vitamin C, 400 IU vitamin D3, 500 IU vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol succinate), 50 milligrams vitamin B1, 10 milligrams vitamin B2, 70 milligrams vitamin B3, 50 milligrams vitamin B5, 50 milligrams vitamin B6, 500 micrograms vitamin B12, 800 micrograms folic acid, 300 micrograms biotin, 500 milligrams calcium, 300 milligrams magnesium, 75 micrograms iodine, 25 milligrams zinc, 1 milligram copper, 2 milligrams manganese, 200 micrograms selenium, 200 micrograms chromium, 75 micrograms molybdenum, 600 micrograms lycopene, 160 milligrams bilberry extract, 150 milligrams alpha lipoic acid, 200 milligrams N-acetylcysteine, 100 milligrams quercetin, 100 milligrams rutin, 250 milligrams citrus bioflavonoids, 50 milligrams plant enzymes, 5 milligrams black pepper extract, 325 milligrams malic acid, 900 milligrams taurine, 100 milligrams L-glycine, 10 milligrams L-glutathione, and 2 milligrams boron), Ocuvite® Lutein AMD (12 milligrams lutein, 0.6 milligrams zeaxanthin), Ocuvite® plus Lutein (6 milligrams lutein,1,200 micrograms beta-carotene, 300 milligrams vitamin C, 60 milligrams vitamin E, 3 milligrams vitamin B2, 12 milligrams niacin, 9 milligrams zinc, 45 micrograms selenium, 0.6 milligrams copper, 1.5 milligrams manganese).

Background
  • Lutein is a carotenoid, or pigment, that gives egg yolk, orange juice, corn, and other foods their yellow color. Lutein and zeaxanthin, another yellow pigment, are found in the retina of the eye. These two nutrients have antioxidant benefits and can trap light that has a short wavelength. Some evidence suggests that there are higher levels of carotenoids in females than in males.
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin levels in the body depend on dietary intake. Levels of lutein and other carotenoids may be used to measure fruit and vegetable intake.
  • Studies support the use of lutein to lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration, an eye disease that may cause vision loss. There is also evidence that lutein and other carotenoids may benefit clogged arteries.
  • Most of the information on lutein is based on blood and/or dietary intakes of lutein in relation to disease states, such as cancer, high blood pressure during pregnancy, eye disorders, lung function, muscle soreness, and weight loss.
  • There is some evidence that taking lutein supplements may improve antioxidant effects, although there are conflicting results. Lutein has also been studied for potential benefits in people with eye problems such as cataracts or retinal breakdown. More evidence is needed before further conclusions can be made.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *


Lutein has been found to block harmful light and resist breakdown by sunlight. Some research suggests that higher lutein intake may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), although results are inconsistent. Early studies have looked at a possible link between higher lutein levels and higher macular pigment optical density (MPOD). A higher MPOD may mean that the eye is better protected from harmful light and that AMD risk is lower. Research has found that MPOD increases with increasing consumption of lutein-rich foods or lutein supplements. In people with early AMD, lutein was found to improve some measures of vision. However, further study is needed in this area before firm conclusions can be made.

C


Studies suggest that eating lutein-rich foods may lack significant effects on markers of oxidative stress. Clinical trial results have found conflicting results on the effects of lutein on oxidant status, DNA damage, or oxidative stress. More research is needed before conclusions can be made.

C


Lutein is believed to promote cancer cell death. Early studies suggest that lutein levels may increase with increasing carotenoid intake and that lutein-rich spinach may improve DNA damage. However, results are not consistent. Some research found that stomach cancer risk may increase with increasing lutein and zeaxanthin levels, while others report a lack of relationship between lutein intake and cancer. Further high-quality research is needed to determine the effect of lutein on human cancers.

C


Lutein has been found to block harmful light and resist breakdown by sunlight. Although lutein is believed to be important for eye health and to reduce cataract risk, consistent results are lacking. Early research found a lack of significant benefit on vision in people with cataracts. Further study is needed before conclusions may be made.

C


Although not well studied in humans, there is evidence that lutein may have benefits on cholesterol and the size of plaques in the arteries. However, results are conflicting. While one study reported that lutein and other carotenoids may reduce artery wall thickness, another suggested that lutein may lack effects. A combination of carotenoids has been found to benefit several risk factors linked to clogged arteries, but the effect of lutein alone is still unclear. More high-quality studies are needed before conclusions can be made.
C


Early research suggests that lutein may improve memory and learning in older women, both alone and used together with fish oil. However, further research is needed in this area to better understand the effects of lutein alone.

C


The relationship between lutein and type 2 diabetes risk has been studied, but results are still unclear. Lutein and zeaxanthin levels have been associated with lower blood sugar and insulin. More research is needed before conclusions can be made.

C


Early research suggests that lutein may benefit people who have telangiectasia, or dilated blood vessels in the eye. Lutein and zeaxanthin combined may increase areas of macular pigmentation in the retina. However, significant effects may be lacking in areas that already lack pigmentation. More research is needed to better understand the effect of lutein alone.

C


Early research suggests that lutein, taken together with other nutrients such as vitamin E, vitamin C, zinc, and copper, may benefit idiopathic retinal periphlebitis, an eye disorder caused by inflamed or blocked blood vessels in the retina. More research is needed to understand the effects of lutein alone.

C


Lutein has been found to block harmful light and resist breakdown by sunlight. Lutein-rich spinach and collard greens have been studied for their potential effects on age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This disorder may lead to loss of vision due to breakdown of the retina. However, strong evidence is lacking to support a link between lutein and this eye condition. Early research suggested a lack of any link between lens clouding and nutritional risk factors, including lutein levels. More studies are needed before conclusions may be made.

C


Lutein has been found to block harmful light and resist breakdown by sunlight. Lutein-rich spinach and collard greens have been studied for their potential effects on the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Research suggests that lutein may increase macular pigment optical density (MPOD) in people with retina breakdown. A higher MPOD may mean that the eye is better protected from harmful light and that AMD risk is lower. However, visual changes are conflicting. More research is needed before conclusions can be made.

C


Early research suggests that a combination therapy containing lutein may improve eye strain and fatigue in healthy people. More research is needed to understand the effect of lutein alone.

C


Early research suggests that a formula fortified with lutein may lack significant effects on weight gain in healthy infants, compared to commercial formula. More studies are needed to understand the effects of lutein alone.

C


The link between a pregnant woman's antioxidant status and the risk of high blood pressure has been studied. It is believed that the risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy decreases with higher lutein levels. More studies are needed in this area.

C


Many studies have looked at the potential effects of carotenoids on lung function and infections. A link between lutein and severity of illness in elderly people or lung function in adults is lacking. More research is needed in this area.

C


Many studies have shown the antioxidant effects of lutein. However, a supplement containing lutein lacked effects on muscle soreness or activity. More research is needed in this area.

C


Early research suggests that a formula containing lutein and zeaxanthin may lack effect on newborns who have abnormal blood vessel development in the retina. Other studies suggest that lutein combined with other carotenoids may improve night vision in premature babies. More research is needed to understand the effect of lutein alone.

C


Many studies suggest that lutein has antioxidant effects. Using a multi-ingredient supplement that contains lutein may reduced skin redness after exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. More information is needed before conclusions may be made.

C


In healthy people, using lutein alone or in combination with other therapies lacked significant effects on vision improvement. More research is needed in this area.

C


Because there are high levels of lutein in green vegetables and other plants, lutein is of interest for weight loss. Two studies have found that higher lutein levels may be linked to lower body mass index (BMI) or fat mass. Further research is needed before conclusions may be made.

C
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)


Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (disease of nerve cells that control muscle movement), arsenic poisoning, burns, cosmetic uses, cystic fibrosis (mucus buildup in lungs and digestive system), dementia, dry skin, enlarged prostate, eye disorders (glare sensitivity), food uses (baby formula), glaucoma (increased eye pressure), high blood pressure, high cholesterol, human papillomavirus (HPV), immune stimulant, infant eye / brain development, inflammation, iron deficiency, premature birth prevention, retinopathy (eye damage caused by blood flow problems), rheumatoid arthritis, skin conditions, suicide prevention, uveitis (eye inflammation), vitamin A deficiency.

Dosing

Adults (over 18 years old)

  • Lutein is sold in various doses. For example, the manufacturer Twinlab (Ronkonkoma, NY) makes a 6 milligram or 20 milligram lutein formula.
  • To treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD), doses of 2.4-30 milligrams of lutein have been taken by mouth 1-2 times daily for 18 weeks to 12 months in the form of lutein capsules.
  • As an antioxidant, a dose of 12-15 milligrams of lutein has been taken by mouth daily for up to 16 weeks.
  • To treat cataracts, a dose of 15 milligrams of lutein has been taken by mouth three times weekly for up to two years.
  • To treat eye disorders (retina breakdown), doses of 10-40 milligrams of lutein have been taken by mouth daily for up to six months.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for lutein in children.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid in people with known allergy or sensitivity to lutein or zeaxanthin, or to ingredients in products containing these compounds.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Lutein is likely safe at up to 1-2 milligrams per kilogram of body weight daily (total of up to 40 milligrams daily for nine weeks or 15 milligrams three times weekly for two years). Purified crystalline lutein is likely safe.
  • Lutein may cause changes in alpha-tocopherol levels, changes in beta-carotene absorption, changes in liver function, changes in vision (night driving difficulty), growth of new blood vessels in the eye, heart attack, increased cancer risk, increased heart disease risk, pneumonia, yellow deposits under the retina, and yellowing of the skin (caused by excess carotene in the blood). The following side effects were reported in people taking lutein, but may have been caused by other factors: death, stroke, and the need for angioplasty (a procedure in which blocked arteries are widened).
  • Use cautiously in children and in pregnant or breastfeeding women, due to a lack of safety information.
  • Use cautiously in people with heart disease, lung disorders, or lung dysfunction.
  • Use cautiously in people taking agents that may lower lutein levels (including alcohol, cholestyramine, colestipol, mineral oil, nicotine (tobacco), orlistat, simvastatin, stanols and sterols, and sucrose polyester fat analog), alpha-tocopherol, and carotenoids.
  • Lutein may lower blood sugar and insulin levels. Caution is advised in people with diabetes or low blood sugar, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood sugar levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, and medication adjustments may be needed.
  • Lutein may interfere with the way the body processes certain agents using the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system.
  • Avoid in people who are at high risk for cancer.
  • Avoid in people with known allergy or sensitivity to lutein or zeaxanthin, or to ingredients in products containing these compounds.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • There is a lack of scientific evidence on the use of lutein during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Use cautiously in pregnant or breastfeeding women, due to a lack of safety information.

Interactions

Interactions with Drugs

  • Lutein may lower blood sugar and insulin levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also affect blood sugar. People taking drugs for diabetes by mouth or insulin should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
  • Lutein may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be altered in the blood, and may cause altered effects or potentially serious adverse reactions. People using any medications should check the package insert, and speak with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, about possible interactions.
  • Lutein may also interact with agents that treat eye disorders, agents that treat heart disorders, agents that treat lung disorders, agents that treat skin disorders, alcohol, anticancer agents, anti-inflammatory agents, cholesterol-lowering agents, cholestyramine resin, colestipol, mineral oil, nicotine (tobacco), orlistat, retinoids, simvastatin, and weight loss agents.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Lutein may lower blood sugar and insulin levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also affect blood sugar. Blood sugar levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.
  • Lutein may interfere with the way the body processes certain herbs or supplements using the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system. As a result, the levels of other herbs or supplements may be altered in the blood. It may also alter the effects that other herbs or supplements possibly have on the P450 system.
  • Lutein may also interact with alpha-tocopherol, anticancer herbs and supplements, anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements, antioxidants, astaxanthin, beta-carotene, bilberry extract, black currant extract, carotenoids (general), cholesterol-lowering herbs and supplements, dietary fiber, herbs and supplements that treat eye disorders, herbs and supplements that treat heart disorders, herbs and supplements that treat lung disorders, herbs and supplements that treat skin disorders, iron, mineral oil, omega-3 fatty acids, retinol, soy, spinach, stanols, sterols, tobacco, tomato, watercress, weight loss herbs and supplements, and zeaxanthin.

Attribution
  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Bibliography
  1. Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 Research Group. Lutein + zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids for age-related macular degeneration: the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2) randomized clinical trial. JAMA 5-15-2013;309(19):2005-2015.
  2. Anunciato TP and da Rocha Filho PA. Carotenoids and polyphenols in nutricosmetics, nutraceuticals, and cosmeceuticals. J.Cosmet.Dermatol. 2012;11(1):51-54.
  3. Dragostinoff N, Werkmeister RM, Kaya S, et al. Short- and mid-term repeatability of macular pigment optical density measurements using spectral fundus reflectance. Graefes Arch.Clin.Exp.Ophthalmol. 2012;250(9):1261-1266.
  4. Farges MC, Minet-Quinard R, Walrand S, et al. Immune status is more affected by age than by carotenoid depletion-repletion in healthy human subjects. Br.J.Nutr. 12-14-2012;108(11):2054-2065.
  5. Ferguson LR and Schlothauer RC. The potential role of nutritional genomics tools in validating high health foods for cancer control: broccoli as example. Mol.Nutr.Food Res. 2012;56(1):126-146.
  6. Fitzgerald KC, O'Reilly EJ, Fondell E, et al. Intakes of vitamin C and carotenoids and risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: pooled results from 5 cohort studies. Ann.Neurol. 2013;73(2):236-245.
  7. Giaconi JA, Yu F, Stone KL, et al. The association of consumption of fruits/vegetables with decreased risk of glaucoma among older African-American women in the study of osteoporotic fractures. Am.J.Ophthalmol. 2012;154(4):635-644.
  8. Hammond BR, Fletcher LM, and Elliott JG. Glare disability, photostress recovery, and chromatic contrast: relation to macular pigment and serum lutein and zeaxanthin. Invest Ophthalmol.Vis.Sci. 2013;54(1):476-481.
  9. Kijlstra A, Tian Y, Kelly ER, et al. Lutein: more than just a filter for blue light. Prog.Retin.Eye Res. 2012;31(4):303-315.
  10. Li, S. Y., Fu, Z. J., and Lo, A. C. Hypoxia-induced oxidative stress in ischemic retinopathy. Oxid.Med.Cell Longev. 2012;2012:426769.
  11. Murray IJ, Makridaki M, van der Veen RL, et al. Lutein supplementation over a one-year period in early AMD might have a mild beneficial effect on visual acuity: the CLEAR study. Invest Ophthalmol.Vis.Sci. 2013;54(3):1781-1788.
  12. Rubin LP, Chan GM, Barrett-Reis BM, et al. Effect of carotenoid supplementation on plasma carotenoids, inflammation and visual development in preterm infants. J.Perinatol. 2012;32(6):418-424.
  13. Shegokar R and Mitri K. Carotenoid lutein: a promising candidate for pharmaceutical and nutraceutical applications. J.Diet.Suppl 2012;9(3):183-210.
  14. Sin HP, Liu DT, and Lam DS. Lifestyle modification, nutritional and vitamins supplements for age-related macular degeneration. Acta Ophthalmol. 2013;91(1):6-11.
  15. Vallverdu-Queralt A, Martinez-Huelamo M, Arranz-Martinez S, et al. Differences in the carotenoid content of ketchups and gazpachos through HPLC/ESI(Li(+) )-MS/MS correlated with their antioxidant capacity. J.Sci.Food Agric. 8-15-2012;92(10):2043-2049.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)


The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.


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